HarperCollins VP Diane Naughton Talks Kids Book Apps

Children’s eBooks have been dominating the Top Paid list in the books category of the App Store for some time. We caught up with Diane Naughton, VP of Marketing, HarperCollins Children’s Books, to discuss their approach to kid’s book apps.

EBN: What are your most popular children’s eBook apps?
DN: ABC Singalong and 1, 2, 3 Ants Go Marching. Freight Train is our latest introduction in the app space. Donald Crews’ award-winning book comes to life in a fully-interactive iPhone and iTouch app. Children learn to read by taking them on an exciting trip along the rails. Colors, numbers and words are introduced to young readers through all the lively sights and sounds of the railroad. There are games on every page, reinforcing reading skills, concepts color and shape recognition, word association, memorization, vocabulary and counting. Over 1 million Freight Train books have been sold and we’re really excited to adapt this classic around such a perennially popular theme into the digital space.
EBN: What is the idea behind Curious Puppy, your eBook imprint?
DN: We wanted to create fun, interactive apps for preschoolers that were very popular, highly searched by moms. Curious Puppy provides online educational games and apps, that combine books with interactive and fun content. Our goal is to educate young learners through entertaining and engaging instruction.  All of our apps develop important educational skills while enhancing the reading experience.  Curious Puppy helps to fill inquisitive minds with knowledge, right into the palm of their hands.

EBN: What kinds of interactive elements do you include in the apps?
DN: Our ABC app includes oversized, touch-screen features with dozens of interactive elements with song changes every time they play.  You can also experience as a stand-alone song.  This app develops pre-reading skills, and small motor functions. Our 1, 2, 3 Ants Go Marching app introduces basic math and language skills. Animated illustrations provide engaging ways to see numbers “come to life”.  This app teaches number recognition, reading skills while developing early math, language and fine motor skills.

EBN: What age range are these apps for?
DN: Preschoolers aged 3-6.

EBN: What devices are people buying these for?
DN: We have apps in development that will have a presence of all of the new devices.  Currently however our focus has been with iPad, iTunes.

EBN: What price points work well?
DN: That is hard to say, but competition is in the range of $0.99-$4.99.

EBN: What challenges, if any, are there for distributing these apps?
The biggest hurdle is to have consumers find your app in the store. It is highly competitive and search capabilities for kid-oriented apps need to be perfected to broaden the audience base. Tablet adoption will help in the months ahead.

EBN: Where do you see the app market going for children’s books in the next year?
DN: I only see it increasing as platform adoption increases and cost of entry for these platforms come down.